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Happy-New-Year-2019-550

What an exciting year 2018 has been at Eugene Pediatrics and Thrive Behavioral Health! As I look back, I give thanks for the many people and events that were part of this great year for us. Most of all, I am deeply thankful to the parents who entrust us with the care of nearly 11,000 kids in our community. It is an honor and privilege to take care of children and watch them grow.

Additionally, I am thankful that in the last 12 months:

  • We added child psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Schumann to our team, making our clinic the only pediatric clinic in the region to have an embedded specialist in the management of complex behavioral health concerns in children. Dr. Schumann has added a new, greatly needed skill set to our integrated medical-behavioral health home.
  • We welcomed Dr. Ross Newman and Dr. LoRanée Braun to our group of providers. These physicians have already made huge contributions to the care of children in our community. They also exemplify an important change in our recruiting focus—to tackle doctor turnover, which has been common in the past five years, not only in our practice, but in other medical practices in Eugene-Springfield. To help ensure that our providers stay, we are now hiring doctors who have ties to our local community and/or who have a deep desire to raise their own families in this area. This will help encourage our providers to stay in the community and form long-lasting relationships with our patients and the families we serve.
  • We started Runs with Ross, a one-of-its-kind exercise program where our beloved Dr. Newman runs weekly with kids and families to promote fitness, camaraderie and spending time together having fun. Learn more at RunsWithRoss.com.
  • For the fourth year in a row, we have exceeded every quality metric that the Oregon Health Authority has set for pediatric clinics in our state. We rank as the top performing pediatric clinic in the entire region in multiple categories, including vaccination rates and developmental screening of infants and toddlers. Meeting quality metrics means we focus on health care initiatives that improve the health and quality of life for children and our community.
  • We spent much of 2018 focused on depression, the No. 1 health crisis facing teens in Lane County. With 1 in 3 local teens suffering from depression, early detection and management of mood problems in adolescents is critical. We aimed to screen for mood issues in every child 11 years and older who came into our clinic, whether it was for a sore throat or a checkup. The result is that we successfully screened and appropriately referred 98 percent of the teens who walked through our doors this year. That's an incredible team effort aimed at supporting young adults. Suicide prevention has become a passion of mine, so this statistic is especially meaningful to me.

I am beyond thankful to have the best team of colleagues and the most rewarding job in the world working at Eugene Pediatrics and Thrive Behavioral Health. The year ahead will bring more innovations and good news regarding our efforts to serve kids and families. We welcome 2019 with excitement and great expectations!

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Family-550

Parenthood is a wonderfully joyful, humbling and incredibly hard journey. But it's especially difficult for parents whose children struggle with mental health and developmental concerns.

Kids with behavioral issues often appear to be healthy kids, so their struggles can catch people who don't know them well off guard. Think about a child in a wheelchair at the store who is having a temper tantrum—what is your first reaction? Pity? Admiration? Patience? Now think about the child with autism who has the same meltdown, but without the outward signs of a serious medical illness. What is your first reaction in that scenario? Annoyance? Judgment? Be honest and my guess is that your reaction to those two children is different.

Beyond the often-harsh judgment that children struggling with mental illness and their parents often receive, there is an internal struggle plaguing moms and dads. They often ask:

  • Why can't my kid be normal?
  • Why can't they just behave when we are at a birthday party?
  • What did I do to make them this way?
  • Will my child be okay in school and in life?
  • Can they ever have normal childhood experiences like going to summer camp?
  • Will they ever be able to connect with anyone?
  • Will they be able to sustain a marriage or a long-term relationship?
  • How can I stop losing my temper when they push me past my limits?
  • Who will take care of them when I'm gone?
These questions are similar for parents whose children suffer from any chronic condition, but the stigma seems somehow heavier for children with mental and developmental disorders because of a social perception that the child or parent could make it better with improved discipline, more effort and more intelligence.

Lack of adequate resources
There is also the issue of accessing appropriate medical care. Behavioral and developmental specialists for children are rare in every state in the U.S. Waiting lists for our local child development and rehabilitation center are months long, as are the waiting lists of most local psychologists, if they are even taking new patients, which many are not.

Most pediatric primary care offices lack the personnel to address the complex needs of children with mental and developmental challenges. That is the reason that I integrated child psychiatry, child psychology, developmental-behavioral pediatrics, family therapy and social work into Eugene Pediatrics. We can't take care of kids without addressing the whole person and the entire family.

Even the most understanding doctor may not truly grasp what a huge deal it is to run out of medications used to treat mental health issues in kids. It is just as serious as running out of insulin for a diabetic child, or emergency inhalers for a child having an asthma attack. When your child spins out of control without treatment for their severe anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum rages or other similar concerns, running out of their regular medicine, even for a single day, can result in a child being sent home from school for completely disrupting a classroom. Or it can lead to a night with no sleep for anyone in the house. And it takes weeks to get back in balance once the refill is finally filled. Parents of kids with severe mental health issues can barely get through the day, so they deserve some grace and understanding when they fail to request refills more than a week ahead. This is true for all parents whose kids struggle, whether it's purely medical illness or primary behavioral-developmental disorders.

How do I know, you may ask?
I'm now a step-mom to a child with serious mental health and developmental challenges. I have watched my wife, Jo, struggle year after year as she tries to help her daughter navigate life. I have held Jo in my arms at night as she cried helplessly after years of watching her daughter struggle in school, fail to make friends, spin inside her own head and act out against the people who love her the most. I witnessed Jo's heartbreak when the most that this little girl could do in our wedding was sprinkle flower petals an hour before guests arrived, while our other three kids actively participated in this special event.

This child is brilliant in so many ways, including reading years ahead of her grade level, but her reactions to things other kids can easily handle are often extreme. To those who don't know about her inner struggles, she appears poorly behaved or inadequately parented, but really, it's just part of her disability. Many of the same struggles we are experiencing are felt on some level by parents of all kids who are different in some way from their peers. Other parents standing in Jo's shoes get it. I didn't get it until I lived with this child, whose struggles are like invisible chains and prison bars.

But if there's one thing I know to be true, it's this: kids often surprise us. Children with mental and developmental disorders are the greatest example. They have moments of incredible, sweet and brave victory. And those moments mean so much to those who love them. It may take time to understand the beauty and meaning of their life, but the rewards are great.

May we all lean in and support those kids who struggle with the silent burden of mental and developmental challenges. And as a community, may we offer them our understanding, our patience and most of all, our love.

 

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Posted by on in News

RunningWithRoss-550X400Dr. Ross Newman is a longtime runner and coach and he wants to share the trail with you and your kids! Join him weekly, starting Saturday, Sept. 29, along with others from Eugene Pediatric Associates. Our goal is to have fun and stay active.

Complete a punch card with ten runs and you will earn rewards, so plan to join us every week!

Runs with Ross

WHEN: Saturday mornings, 10-11:30 a.m.

WHERE: All events will take place at Alton Baker Park, at the start of Pre's Trail. Park on the east side of Day Island Rd. and look for our group at the start of the bark path, near the waterway.

WHO: All are welcome. Show up ready to run. We will divide up into groups based on age and ability. Families are encouraged to run together, but parents or legal guardians can wait at the drop site if they don't wish to run.*

WHAT: We will run for about an hour and then eat a healthy snack while reviewing health tips for good running and nutrition.

"I'm excited to create this opportunity for kids and families to get together with us, get active and have fun," says Dr. Ross. "When kids get regular, physical activity, it builds the foundation for them to live a healthier life."

*All participants must complete a registration form and waiver before running. Please arrive a few minutes early to complete them on the day of your or your child's first run. Legal guardians must sign for children under 18 years of age.

 

 

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Posted by on in News

Photo-1-550
Bags of Love Executive Director Becky Stenzel talks about the nonprofit's mission with Dr. B.

There are many wonderful nonprofits in our community working hard to care for and support children. I recently visited an organization called Bags of Love and, after seeing the vital and heartfelt work they are doing on behalf of kids, I am committed to lending my support.

Bags of Love was founded in 2008 with the purpose of providing necessities and items of comfort to children who are in crisis, due to neglect, abuse, poverty, homelessness and disaster. They give children who desperately need help a hand-sewn bag filled with age-appropriate things, including socks, pajamas, underwear, school supplies, toys, books, toiletries and a hand-made quilt or fleece blanket.

Bags of Love works with over 50 agencies that request help for kids, such as the F.B.I., Department of Human Services, CAHOOTS, Centro Latino Americano, and Relief Nursery.

It is alarming that over 7,000 cases of child abuse and neglect occur annually in Oregon. And in Lane County:

  • 23.1 percent of children live below the federal poverty line
  • 44 percent of households are in poverty or cannot afford basic household expenses
  • More than 2,100 children are homeless

I became emotional as I walked through the Bags of Love warehouse, which is filled with donated clothes, books, toys, coats and blankets. Volunteers worked as I listened to stories of how this loving place is making an impact—about the child who celebrated after finally receiving her very own toothbrush after living so long without a way to clean her teeth; about the 90-year-old volunteer who made 70 quilts by hand for kids in need; and the fact that 4 part-time employees and over 200 volunteers distributed 2,244 kids Bags of Love over the last year.

I would like to help Bags of Love grow and continue its amazing mission of service. This year, during the month of December, we will invite families of Eugene Pediatrics and Thrive Behavioral Health to donate new or lightly used items for this charity.

How can you help right now?

  • Donate clothing: new socks, underwear, coats and other items (sizes newborn to adult XXL), toys, toiletries and school supplies.
  • Make a cash donation of any amount.
  • Give your time and talents by volunteering in the warehouse, or sewing quilts, knitting or crocheting blankets and making bags.
  • Attend the annual Bags of Love auction on October 4th at the Valley River Inn. Contact Bags of Love for more information)

To offer your support or to volunteer, call 541-357-4957 or click here.

Thank you to Bags of Love Executive Director Becky Stenzel and her staff and volunteers for their diligent efforts and energy on behalf of children who desperately need all of our love.

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vaccine

Your team at Eugene Pediatrics is always looking for ways to address important health concerns for kids and families, and we lead our community in efforts that we believe will protect everyone's health, most of all our precious children.

Starting Monday, we will be recommending that your child's "kindergarten shots" be given at age 4 years instead of the current community practice of giving them to children at age 5. Why?

Here are our top reasons:

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve these vaccines to be given as young as age 4 to safely and effectively boost children's immunity to potentially life-threatening diseases, and to protect babies and those with decreased immunity who live in the community with these kids.

2. Our region is in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic – there has been a 220 percent rise this year, compared to the same time last year –which means 4-year-old children entering pre-K are at much higher risk this year.

3. This new vaccination schedule will help ensure that every single kindergarten student is protected with the recommended vaccines, prior to entering kindergarten.

As pediatricians and parents, your medical providers at Eugene Pediatrics believe vaccines are one of the most important ways we can help protect babies and children from serious or life-threatening illnesses. We believe in the safety and efficacy of currently recommended vaccines, and we worry about low vaccination rates in our region.

Hopefully, other medical clinics that care for children will follow our lead and join in a community-wide effort to vaccinate at age 4.

Our desire, at Eugene Pediatrics, is to help parents take the best-possible care of their kids. Because we love your kids, too!

Please talk with us if you have questions about vaccines. Call today to get your 4-year-old scheduled for their wellness exam and shots, or schedule a nurse-only visit to get vaccines before your next scheduled visit.

 

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